By Rebecca DiFede — In a recent speech in Michigan, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney stated that “deep confidence in a better tomorrow is the basic promise of America” and that he didn’t merely want to change policies but wished to “offer a dramatic change in perspective and philosophy.”
Hmm. Where have we heard that before?
Oh yes. That’s right, it’s the same thing every candidate says when facing an incumbent. That what the current administration has done was wrong, but never fear, Romney is here — to save the day.
So who is to be trusted with the future of America? Perhaps the answer lies with some of the key issues from the Obama administration that all of the candidates promise to focus on should they be elected.
First on that list might be our impossibly excessive spending. Our illustrious president has taken the phrase “spend like it’s going out of style” to a whole new level, draining our nation’s wealth as if it was a pair of purple-striped MC Hammer pants.
Romney, throughout the course of his campaign, has outlined his 59-point plan, in which he claims he will cap spending at 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and balance the budget. Santorum and Gingrich have promised similar things, claiming that if they are elected, only then will America be the booming, prosperous giant it once was.
Which would be wonderful, if the Republicans can ever get the 60 Senate votes required to pass that kind of reform. Why?
While it only takes 51 votes to pass a budget, to change so-called “mandatory” spending requires a change of law, which requires 60 votes to gain cloture in the Senate.
The truth of the matter is spending almost never goes down no matter who is in power. According to the Office of Management and Budget, spending has continued to climb throughout our history. So regardless if its Republicans or Democrats, Federalists or Anti-Federalists, no one actually reduces spending the way they say they will.
Now this is not just because they haven’t reduced the debt since 1957, but also because the two-thirds of our spending is filed under the category “mandatory” spending that increases automatically, and which the president has little to no control over.
That is yet another convenient tidbit that the candidates forget to mention. In fact, altering the criterion for the mandatory spending would occur only if a 60 vote majority was reached in the Senate. That’s problematic, because, since the advent of the filibuster, Republicans have never had a filibuster-proof majority in that body.
These programs are required under law and are subject to a specified criteria. They are “defined benefits” that are calculated based on the statutory formula, and presto, the Treasury must spend the money. Therefore, the law itself must literally be changed to eliminate or reduce how much is spent — and that takes 60 votes in the Senate.
So even if the entire country came to a standstill and Congress refused to ever pass a budget again, spending would continue to increase because of the “mandatory” spending.
The only pieces of the budget that can be in any way controlled are filed under “discretionary” spending and, obviously, the tax code. In the past few years, discretionary spending has been a ratio of almost 1 to 1 to the national deficit.
If Romney were to do what he says if elected, he would have to both reduce discretionary spending, plus get a supermajority to cut mandatory spending.
Fat chance, Mitt. Don’t promise us change. We were already promised (and defaulted on) in that regard. Why not repeatedly advise the American people that they not only ought to elect you, but that you need 60 Senate votes to make the necessary changes to get our fiscal house in order?
Also, how about telling us something we can actually look forward to? After all, you do have the best hair out of all the candidates, so I guess you can promise better headshots?
Might make the State of the Union speeches a little less depressing with something to laugh at other than Obama’s love affair with his teleprompter, and the phony promises of hope and change that have only resulted in debt and bills.
Rebecca DiFede is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government.